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Old 03-18-2011, 10:57 PM   #29
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2005 19' Safari
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Sounds like we are the exception... We have a 2wd Tundra. In Arizona, we don't have no stinkin' grass! (Just kidding.)

In any case, we have towed for years with only 2wd pickups. They cost a little less, get a little better fuel economy, and have fewer mechanical parts in the drivetrain to go bad. In the desert southwest, we tow primarily on paved highways and on dry, relatively smooth dirt roads, so we have luckily never needed 4wd. If a road looks like we might need 4wd, we don't go there. Besides, we don't want to beat-up our Airstream.

However, if we traveled extensively in the wet and/or frozen north country, I'd have a 4wd, for sure.

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Old 03-19-2011, 02:30 AM   #30
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I agree with Phoenix. I have driven since I was 14. I was raised in Michigan where the winters were fairly severe. I have NEVER OWNED a 4wd. I have 2 trucks now, a F150 thats 17 yrs old NEVER BEEN STUCK and F 350 SW long bed Diesel that's 10 yrs old NEVER BEEN STUCK.
BUY 4 wd drive if you really think its nessesary. Please dont let some SALESMAN talk you into it. 4 wheelers have more stuff to break,have more unsprung weight and weight costs fuel mileage. More rotating mass,thats costs fuel mileage.
You don't even have to take my word for it.But I have driven for 59 yrs without 4 wd. Dont think I wanna start now. I really don't think ya need to spend the extra money. BUT THATS just me.

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Old 03-19-2011, 04:35 AM   #31
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Locker rear ends are for drag racing or off road use. A locker rear end for street use is impractical, you wouldn't be a able to turn a corner. It's only the limited slip type available as an option.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:24 AM   #32
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During the 70's we pulled a 66 Overlander with a chevy van. We traveled all over the Eastern seaboard up through Nova Scotia into Cape Breton National Park etc. Never had a need for 4 wheel drive. We sold the trailer in the late 80's when the kids got too old to go with us (wasn't thinking then, should have kept that vintage 66 airstream). We now have 4 wheel drive on our TV and use it often. I really like the low range 4 wheel for getting in and out of several of the boondocking campsites we use.

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:53 AM   #33
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2WD vs 4WD

Since we are new to Airstream camping everything we know we learned last year. Our first (!) time out was last January in West Virginia camping at a KOA. Our request for a site near the bath house resulted in a poorly-prepared and muddy area.

OK. Everything was muddy in January but the heavy gravel in the parking area had been smashed into the mud. On my first attempt to move the TV we were stuck. There we were - camping in civilization. No boondock. No adventure. Stuck.

My next TV if I ever need to replace the Chevy before I die or "retire" from camping will be 4WD.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:01 AM   #34
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I'm been off roading in SW Colorado for 27 years and while an ARB locker setup is desirable at a thousand per axle, the limit slip factory options on Ford, Chev/GMC and Jeep products are more than adequate.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:52 AM   #35
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Our F250 crew cab has 4wd and rear limited slip. I've used it many, many times, both towing and running free... and I won't buy a truck w/o it. Pickups in particular get easily mired w/o 4wd.... my Airstream is 4500 lbs easy, the truck is 7200 lbs empty iirc. Add Barbie and I, and we're talking 12000+ lbs... and less than 4400 (including tongue weight) of that on the rear wheels. That's fine for pavement, but when a dirt road gets slippery or steep, the rear wheels need some help dragging the 7500+ lbs of dead load around... and 4wd changes that equation to 8000 lbs on the drive axles and only 4000 lbs being dragged.... so that's why it makes such a huge difference.

If you never leave the pavement and don't go where it snows, you won't miss it... but otherwise, get the 4wd.

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Old 03-19-2011, 09:30 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by JFScheck View Post
Actually - you do not want Posi-Trac as the wheel that slips gets more and more of the power....

One want's a "locking rear end" - that's the key for 4x2 or 4x4!
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
Ahhhh......somebody gets it! Posi is for hot rods, Lockers are for trucks!
While a locker is ideal (this is why my truck is being built with front and rear air lockers) The factory does not offer them. I strongly recomend them as an upgrade, but if your buying a new truck, a posi is what you have a choice of getting. And technically speaking in a truck it is called a "gov lock" which it is a locker, just not a very good one.

Considering my lockers are over 800.00 each, that is pretty healthy coin, expecially considering most people will have to pay a shop to install it for them wich will put the total price tag to around 1100-1500.00 depending on if anything else in the pumpkin needs replacing.
"When the people fear the government, there is Tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is Liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:08 AM   #37
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Just an additional comment, but this probably applies only to the southwest:

Arizona, New Mexico and southern California (and I suspect many of the southern states) are pickup country. It seems like about half of the vehicles on the road are pickups or SUVs, many of them with 4WD or AWD. With most areas never seeing enough snow, ice or mud to skid on or spin the tires, I'll bet that most of these vehicles (in particular, the ones in the cities that are probably used as station wagons, and were purchased as status symbols) were never driven in 4WD after they left the dealer's lot. In all likelyhood, many of the pickups down here have probably never been more than a hundred yards off the pavement, and spend most of their life hauling weekend toys and mass quantities from Costco. (This includes our family...)

It is so ridiculous that I think I recall hearing about a shop in Scottsdale that applies artificial mud streaks to 4WDs and Hummers for those who want to LOOK LIKE they've been off-roading.

I know there are serious off-roaders here in Arizona, and I don't mean to offend anyone. However, for many, 4WD is an option, not a requirement. For example, we're camping in 85/55 degree weather right now; and it has been months since we had anything more than a trace of rain; although it will be 100+ in another month or two (one of the downsides to living in the desert).
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:58 AM   #38
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Phoenix, you are correct that 4WD is an option. And you are correct that many people buy 4x4 SUV and trucks to buy groceries. And if the roughest place you tow to is a gravel RV park, then you don't need it.

But if you are like many who tow and encounter freak snow storms, or dare to go off the beaten trail to boondock, or like to unhook and explore the off-beaten track, then 4WD is a smart investment. It does snow in Arizona, too.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:55 PM   #39
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Is 4wd much of a necessity?

I am probably in a minority as I have had three 4X4 tow vehicles and my current K2500 will be my last tow vehicle ordered with four wheel drive. Over the years since I began Airstreaming in 1995, I have only used 4x4 once while towing and could have gotten along with Posi-Trac just as well.

Of the three 4x4 tow vehicles, only one had reliable four wheel drive operation and that was my 1984 AMC Jeep Grand Wagoneer. My 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Club Cab Pickup had the manual shift transfer case and it required, on average, one trip to the dealer per month to get the 4X4 to disengage -- after a year of this, I would only select 4X4 on extreme ocassions and it always resulted in a trip to the dealer to get it to go back to 2 wheel drive Hi. When I ordered my replacement for the Chevrolet in 1998, I ordered a K2500 Suburban with electronic shift transfer case -- and it is ready for its 15th circuit board replacement since it was new (190,000+ miles) and each replacement (since the warranty expired) has cost around $750. The latest twist is bad bearings in the transfer case so this time it needs a circuit board plus a remanufactured transfer case -- a total of more than $2,000. I have told my mechanic that I will invest that money in having the 4X4 disabled/removed from the vehicle (probably will have to buy a parts truck from the salvage yard for the parts).

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:49 PM   #40
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Don't think we really need it..

We had a 4WD '94 Suburban when we acquired the Airstream in 2003, and "upgraded" to 2WD Excursion in 2006.. I never used the 4WD capability while towing the A/S or its predecessor, and haven't missed 4WD or gotten stuck with the Excursion.. That said, I am not one to tow a trailer in snow and ice (intentionally) nor do I look for remote muddy and hilly spots in the wilderness to camp.. If we did, I'd reconsider.. I do have a lot of experience driving in snow on hills in Pennsylvania growing up, and understand theories behind moving (and stopping) with reduced traction. I suspect in Texas and southwest, you'll be OK with 2WD, and can bank the savings in fuel and maintenance to pay for the rare occasional tow when and if needed... We do make sure the M&S tires on Excursion have a lot of good tread and are appropriately inflated, and keep an electric air pump onboard...

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:18 PM   #41
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I have four wheel drive and two sets of chains. Some of the roads are dirt and get real slick when wet.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:12 PM   #42
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Do they even make a Chevy or GMC 2500HD Duramax with 2WD? That'd be a pretty rare bird. So, if you want the grunt, you're stuck, so to speak, with 4WD.

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